Rory McIlroy withdraws from Rio Olympics 5 years ago

Rory McIlroy withdraws from Rio Olympics

Rory McIlroy has pulled out of the Rio Olympics this year over fears that he may contract the Zika virus.

The Northern Irishman is currently ranked number four in the world and was due to represent Ireland at this summer's games, but he announced on Wednesday morning that he would not be making the trip to Brazil because of health concerns.

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In a statement he said:

'After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.

'After speaking with those closest to me, I've come to realise that my health and my family's health comes before anything else. Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take.

'I trust the Irish people will understand my decision. The unwavering support I receive every time I compete in a golf tournament at home or abroad means the world to me.

'I will continue to endeavour to make my fans and fans of golf proud with my play on the course and my actions off it.'

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Fears over the Zika virus were raised when the World Health Organisation declared it to be a global emergency in February and pregnant women has already been advised not to attend the summer Olympics, although it is believed to be less of a risk in August as it will be the South American winter and there will be fewer mosquitoes around to carry the virus.

Many of those who are infected may show no symptoms but others may experience mild illness, rash, fever and headaches. But the greatest concern of the virus comes from the fact it can cause microcephaly in infants if their mother is infected while pregnant, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads due to lack of brain development.

The Olympic Count of Ireland released a statement sharing their disappointment, saying:

'The OCI is extremely disappointed not to be taking Rory with us to Rio. However, as we have always said, it is down to the individual and of course we respect his decision, which he has taken for personal reasons.

'Rory was set to be one of the big stars of Rio 2016, but now there is an opportunity for another Irish golfer to take up the chance to become an Olympian and participate in golf’s historic return to the Olympic Games after a 112-year absence.

'The OCI and our medical team have taken our lead from the IOC on the zika situation, as we do in all matters. They have provided us with every assurance and we have total confidence that the Games will be safe for all athletes.

'We are now following the IOC’s recommendations, as well as the recommendations of the Rio 2016 organisers, the World Health Organisation and national health authorities, to ensure that Team Ireland’s athletes are kept fully updated with the latest and best advice and that they are equipped to take all necessary precautions.

'The OCI regularly updates the private Team Ireland app guidelines and we have held a number of sport seminars and workshops for team leaders, coaches and medical support staff. The OCI is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring the welfare of Team Ireland’s athletes at Rio 2016.'

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